The Independent

World news in brief


Bangladesh reffugee camp blaze ‘planned act of sabotage’

The massive blaze that tore through a refugee camp housing thousands of Rohingya Muslims in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh was a “planned act of sabotage”, a team of investigat­ors probing the fire said on Sunday.

Senior district government official Abu Sufian, who is heading the seven-member panel, said the fire broke out in multiple places inside the refugee camp at the same time, confirming it as a planned act. It was a deliberate attempt by militant groups to

establish supremacy inside the camps, the top official said but did not name the accused groups.

He added: “We recommende­d further investigat­ion by the lawenforci­ng agency to identify the groups behind the incident.” The panel’s report concluding that the fire attack was planned was based on inputs from 150 witnesses, Mr Sufian said. The panel has called for a formation of a separate fire service unit for Rohingya camps which have regularly faced the danger of blaze. Humanitari­an organisati­ons said that the fire incident was among the worst witnessed in the refugee camps.

Adnan Junaid, Asia regional director at Internatio­nal Rescue Committee, called for “immediate action to be taken to mitigate the risk of this happening ever again”. The makeshift camps housing Rohingya refugees have witnessed fires often. At least 15 refugees were killed in a massive blaze in March 2021, which destroyed more than 10,000 homes.

Air pollution hospitalis­es 200,000 in Thailand

Nearly 200,000 people have been hospitalis­ed in Thailand this week due to hazardous air pollution, as the country is choking on a thick haze that has engulfed the capital city, Bangkok. The severe pollution has been caused by a dangerous mix of industrial emissions, agricultur­al burning, and vehicle fumes.

The rising levels of air pollution in Thailand have put immense pressure on the country’s healthcare services. More than 1.3 million people have fallen sick since the start of the year as a result of air pollution, with nearly 200,000 admitted to hospital this week alone, AFP reported, quoting the public health ministry.

Bangkok, the capital city, is the worst affected with air quality continuing to worsen due to a combinatio­n of vehicular pollution, industrial emissions, and smoke from agricultur­al burning. On Saturday, the popular tourist destinatio­n was ranked the third-most polluted city in the world by monitoring firm IQAir.

‘Black Summer’ wildfifire ‘widened ozone hole’

Australia’s “Black Summer” wildfires in 2020 widened the ozone hole by 10 per cent, according to a new study that warns that smoke particles from such fires can erode the Earth’s protective layer.

The research, published last week in the journal Nature, assessed the impact of smoke from the Black Summer wildfire in eastern Australia that burned from December 2019 into January 2020, directly killing 36 people and harming over 3 billion animals.

The mega-fire, which is Australia’s most devastatin­g on record, scorched tens of millions of acres and pumped over a million tons of smoke into the atmosphere, say researcher­s, including those from MIT.

Scientists identified a new chemical reaction by which smoke particles from the Australian wildfires made the ozone depletion worse. They say the fires may have led to a 3 to 5 per cent depletion of total ozone in regions overlying Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Africa and South America by triggering this chemical reaction.

Retrial for ex-boxer, 87, on death row

Tokyo’s high court yesterday ordered a retrial for an 87-year-old former boxer who has been on death row for more than five decades after his murder conviction that his lawyers said was based on forced confession and fabricated evidence.

The Tokyo High Court said Iwao Hakamada deserves a retrial because of a possibilit­y that key evidence that led to his conviction could have been fabricated by investigat­ors, according to a statement from the Japan Bar Associatio­n. Amnesty Internatio­nal says Hakamada is the world’s longestser­ving death row prisoner. “We won his retrial. I’m so glad, and that’s all I can say,” said his 90-year-old sister Hideko, who has devoted her life to proving her brother’s innocence.

Hakamada was convicted of murder in the 1966 killing of a company manager and three of his family members, and setting fire to their central Japan home, where he was a live-in employee. He was sentenced to death two years later. He initially denied the accusation­s, then confessed, which he later said he was forced to because of violent interrogat­ion by police. It took 27 years for the Supreme Court to deny his first appeal for a retrial. Want your views to be included in The Independen­t Daily Edition letters page? Email us by tapping here letters@independen­ Please include your address


 ?? ?? Rohingya refugees search for their belongings after the fire at Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh earlier this month (AFP/Getty)
Rohingya refugees search for their belongings after the fire at Balukhali camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh earlier this month (AFP/Getty)

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